Monday, 24 September

Conversation Between Jirayr Sefilyan and the Parlamentarians



Vahe Sarukhanyan
Edik Baghdasaryan 

Honorable Parliamentarians,

I would like to thank you for your initiative in investigating the real reasons of my and other political arrests in our country. I have refused to give any comments to the official investigating bodies, so thank you for giving me a chance to answer your questions.

Jirayr Sefilyan 
February 20th, 2007

1. Please present your autobiography in brief:

I was born in 1967, inBeirut,Lebanon. During the civil war inLebanon, I took part in the defense activities of the Armenian quarters inBeirut.

In 1990, with the ambition of participating in the Artsakh liberation movement, I moved toArmeniawith my family. As a military instructor, I was involved in the formation of self-defense units in Artsakh and Syunik. In 1991, as a military detachment commander I took part in the defense of several districts of Artsakh.

In 1992, one of the first companies of the Artsakh Army was formed on the basis of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF)/Dashnakcutiun military units. Several months later this company developed into the Shushi brigade of the NKR Army. During the entire duration of the Artsakh war, I led the activities of this brigade in Shushi.

I got married during the war in 1993, after which I returned toLebanonin 1994 for the birth of my first child. At this time, the ARF was banned inArmeniaand so I was only able to return to the homeland in November 1997. From 1997 to 1998 I became the NKR Defense Army brigade Commander.

In 1998 I returned toYerevanand continued my efforts in civil-political activities. From 2001 till the present, I have been coordinating the activities of the public initiative group, “Protection of theLiberatedTerritories.” The initiative disagrees with the RA government, especially their defeatist position regarding the Nagorno- K?rabagh conflict settlement and their readiness to surrender the liberated territories.

Since 2006 we established the Araks-Kur Foundation for Resettlement and Development of Javakhk. The main mission of the Foundation is the settlement of still inhabited areas in Artsakh and the implementation of programs aimed at the consolidation of Armenians living in Javakhk.

In June 2006 my second child was born inYerevan.

2. Why were you refused Armenian citizenship and what is your current status in the Republic of Armenia?

My first demand for Armenian citizenship in 2003 was left un answer ed . According to the law I applied for citizenship once more a year later and was refused with no explanation. I only know that the RA P resident's office took into consideration the negative response received from the National Security Service.

Before moving toYerevanand applying for citizenship I tried to get special resident status , which , again, was denied with out explanation.

Currently, I have no legal r ight to stay inArmenia.

3. You have o fficially been accused of “Calling for armed coup d'etat.”.How would you comment on this?

That is an unfounded allegation and the case is fabricated by political order.

I have always talked about the need for regime change, but I do not imagine doing it through violence or armed fighting. Firstly, because I believe there is no need for it. People's hate for those several individuals in power is so great that it is enough to organize them a little and this administration will leave by itself. In addition, armed resistance is not an effective means of internal struggle. Nobody can secretly store enough weapons to fight the state structure. I am not afraid of guns, but there is no sense in putting the organization at risk of being persecuted by the law.

Regarding my speech, I should say that like others, I also have a right to free expression and feel obligated to speak loudly about my political orientations. If the call for regime change is a crime, then it would be possible to prosecute at least half of the Armenian population.

4. The unregistered organization “Union of Armenian Volunteers” is mentioned in the criminal case. What kind of organization is it, what are its goals, and what is your status in the organization?

What does this mean- unregistered? Where is the law requiring registration of a public movement that is not even created yet? Or, generally, who says that registration is mandatory? We did not register the public initiative “Protection of Liberated Territories” either, since we did not feel the need. However, we worked very well, even participated in public hearings at the National Assembly and our report was published in the NA periodical.

As for the “Union of Armenian Volunteers,” I had initiated it together with a group of supporters, because I had a feeling that, despite the existence of many political parties and organizations, there was no well-organized Armenian institution in our motherland that could take care of the country and the people.

5. The speeches made in the December meeting of “Unity of Armenian Volunteers” were published in the media. What did you mean when you made the following statements:

•  I agree, let's not differentiate the means for resistance;

•  The opposition will not achieve results with peaceful demonstrations;

•  If necessary, we'll force the opposition to get organized.

“I agree, let's not differentiate the means for resistance,” was a reflection on 2-3 speeches made during the meeting, where I felt frustrated by the traditional means of opposition struggle. And that is natural, since the will of the people has been ignored for years. The opposition had several actual victories, but failed to maintain them. You might even say that it was not allowed to maintain these victories. However, the people place their hope not on the mercy of the regime in power, but on the determination of the opposition leaders. Seeing that “peaceful” opposition demonstrations do not bring results, people start considering more extreme means. However, I believe this is due to inadequate mobilization of the opposition and the people, and not to the means of resistance. If we could achieve adequate mobilization there would be no need for extreme steps, because, when people are organized, when they can catch the hand of falsifiers in all electoral districts, and later catch the hand of those beating them, the state will not apply more forceful methods. Therefore, the opposition should be united. Unfortunately, this is difficult. We want to create such a national force, which being powerful but not pretentious, could have a critical influence on the opposition forces and limit the unconstructive behavior of certain leaders. That is what I meant when I said, “to force the opposition.”

6. Is it true that you owned a military gun?

The “Makarov” gun was an award that I received from the army command. As an officer, I have constantly carried a gun, since 1990. However, I have never shot into the ceiling, like others have, and my nickname is not “Shooting Jiro.” Nor have I ever demonstrated that I carry a gun.

7. Have you ever been warned about possibly being arrested? From whom and what were the justifications?

I had been warned, not only on the day of my arrest and a few hours before, but also on December 4th. One of my buddies (whose name I don't want to mention) met me to tell me that the National Security Service (NSS) wanted to arrest me, because “we are very active.” On the day of the arrest, Vano (Vahan Aroyan) also informed me via two phone calls a few hours before I was arrested. The justification was that “they want to deport.” These two individuals have many acquaintances in the NSS.

8. Under what circumstances did you meet Vahan Aroyan and what kind of relationship did you have with him?

We were in the same unit during liberation movements in Shushi. After the war we continued communicating as friends from combat. We also have some mutual friends.

9. Were you aware that he keeps weapons?

I wasn't aware. But Vano is my combat friend and I am sure that he has never used those weapons for wrongdoing.

10. What do you know about the connections that Vahan Aroyan has with the NSS, Ministry of Internal Affairs, and other military services/tructures?

I suppose that Vano had close relationships with many people from the NSS. Living next to the border, he had free entrance and exit bars . As far as I know, the commanders on the border ask for his help on a regular basis. I am sure, and it has also been mentioned on TV, that Vano has been participating in several operations on the border. He also has many acquaintances in the police force.

11. Have you had connections/meetings with employees of the National Security Service?

During the last 5-6 years I have been invited to the NSS a couple of times. In every case, the reason for the meetings whereas been my public activities and oppositional views, as well as my connections with opposition leaders. The last time I was invited there was March 2006. I was threatened to be deported from the country if I didn't stop my activities. The official reason was my personal perspective on Javakhk, but in the end the real reason turned out to be my speeches on the famous couple. My answer was that my activities are not illegal and that I have been, and will be active concerning national issues. There were always at least 2 people present at each of the meetings. I was also taken to “Krakem Hrach” (Shooting Hrach) who knew me previously, but was keeping a certain distance. He also started attacking the opposition in his speech, saying: “what is your business with them, who are they? You can't even imagine how strong we are…we are going to suppress them,” while gesturing with his hands how they are going to do it. During all of our meetings, I have clearly notified them that I will continue my actions and no one has the right to forbid me from doing so.

12. What, in your opinion, are the real motives for bringing you before a court?

The famous duet has more than one reason to neutralize me. As a result of the work carried out in the course of the past several years, a certain atmosphere has been created inArmenia, due to which the transfer of the liberated territories has become impossible. The forces impeding transfer of the above mentioned territories are largely associated with my name. Thus, it may seem to some people that they can defeat the will of those who oppose this traitorous deal by means of putting me into jail. I don't believe that at this pre-election stage anyone would take the risk of transferring the territories. However, later, the authorities, when through certain fabrications, succeed to return, would have to make concessions regarding the Nagorno- Karabagh issue due to pressure and criticism by the international community. The administration would then take the risk and try to make a deal over the territories.

Another case of treason is already taking place in Javakhk. Under the regional communication program,Georgiahas basically surrendered theterritoryofJavakhktoTurkeyand the Turks. Such people like Oskanyan raise weak objections only over theKars-Akhalkalak project, but in the end are in agreement with this fact too.And the National Security Service, due to a plea on the part of the Georgian Government, helped to undermine the powers that had a real chance at making Kars Akhalkalak and other Panturkistic projects fail. Naturally, we could not but cooperate with the national forces of Javakhk. Some people may think that by arresting me they deprive our friends in Javakhk of strong backing.

However, my arrest is not motivated by either the Javakhk nor the Nagorno-Karabagh issues. The primary reason is the upcoming elections. We fully realize that the situation that will be created after these elections is essential, both for Javakhk and for Karabagh. Besides, the issue of improvement of the moral atmosphere in the country is especially urgent. Thus, we had, to a certain extent, prepared and openly announced that we intend to make the forging hand stop and not allow them to threaten people. To that end, it was necessary to consolidate our efforts and we had started working in that direction. We did not have any expectations from these elections, but we were consolidating to serve the people. That was the main goal of our consolidation and the fresh concept that scared the authorities.

Besides, we were communicating intensely with the opposition and had a certain influence on them. Our contacts were rather close with some of them and the authorities that try to get return could have smelled danger in this too.

13. If there is certain political “game” taking place, who do you think are the interested parties?

There is definitely a political “game” and the famous duet shares the responsibility.

 


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